Dieting/WLS, Fat, Medicine, Sweet Machine, You've Got to Be Kidding Me


According to the Vancouver Sun, there’s a new way to torture yourself through dieting. Literally:

The medical procedure involves stitching a small piece of polyethylene mesh onto a patient’s tongue, making it painful to ingest solid foods and forcing a low-calorie, liquid diet.

You pay a nice man named Dr Nikolas Chugay to spend 10 minutes to stitch a torture device into your mouth, and you pay him $3,000 for the privilege, and then you eat 750 calories a day for a month. And you lose weight! And also you forgo all pleasure in life because you are combining constant pain with a sub-torture level of sustenance!

According to the article, “Since last September, Chugay says 35 people have opted for the surgery.” That’s 35 people who hate themselves so profoundly that they paid a doctor $3,000 to sew a pain patch into their mouths.

Can someone please wake me when we’re in that post-feminist world full of jolly fat people that I keep hearing so much about? I’m going to go huddle in a closet with T-Rex till then.

226 thoughts on “Gobsmacked”

  1. OWIE. Owie eewiee owie eewie owie eewie! EEW!

    I think “gobsmacked” is very much an adequate word to describe that godsawful idea. Auuuuugh!

  2. And as always, the editor in question of the original article can’t think of any better picture to accompany the article about voluntary self-mutilation than to post a Dreaded Headless Fattie.

  3. I’ll staple some sandpaper to someone’s tongue for a mere $5000 – that’s a bargain, when you think about it, especially since the staples won’t really hold for very long and you can go back to eating like a normal person sooner.

  4. I like that it’s safer than “extreme measures” like gastric bypass. There’s a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one. What a lovely culture we live in.

  5. I found this quote in the article from a different doctor telling:

    “If there was a quick and easy way to do this, we’d all be skinny . . . The notion that pain is required to teach these people what to do is not only a ridiculous assertion but unnecessarily cruel.”

    On the surface, it’s like, at least SOMEONE gets it – but ‘unnecessarily cruel’? Like there’s some necessary level of cruelty to put people through to get them thin? Isn’t cruelty by its very nature an unnecessary level of pain and suffering?


  6. I clicked the link and the article said it cost 3,000. I didn’t see the 10,000 figure?

    Oh.. and of course i am too speechless to comment on why anyone would allow someone to mutilate their tongue for a quick temporary dose of skinny, thus i my brain had no alternative but to focus on the minute detail of the cost.

  7. This is extremely frightening and sad. The lengths that people will go to in order to obtain this flawed idea of “thin=healthy” is troublesome. What’s more troublesome is that there is at least one doctor who is willing to do it. What happened to “First, do no harm”?

  8. Ugh, that’s absolutely terrible.

    But I’m really commenting just to say that I require a plushie fat T-Rex. It will be miiiine.

  9. I feel like I’m going to throw up.
    Wait, maybe that’s the purpose of the article – to make fat people so disgusted they throw up that food that we’re addicted to.

    I hate the world today. I just plain ol’ hate it.

  10. @Renatus – I don’t know, I’d say “unnecessarily cruel” could also be taken to mean that the cruelty in general is unnecessary.

    What I don’t get is how people still have the idea that semi-starvation is actually healthy for fat people. Shouldn’t doctors know better than this? A month on 750 calories a day? Isn’t that less than a newborn baby eats? How is this supposed to be different than any other crash diet? Lemmie guess, it’s a “lifestyle change”. Never mind, I should know there’s no point in expecting the weight loss industry to actually make *sense*…

    “These are people who have been through . . . every conceivable diet; they’ve tried everything and for some reason they just cannot stop eating,””

    Oh! That’s why I’m still fat. I didn’t realize I was supposed to STOP EATING. Yeah, for “some reason” I do find that difficult. Pesky little thing called the will to live….

  11. I am unhappy about this article! So I’m going to talk about the dinosaur! I will get one for my friend who is pregnant with a baby! I think the baby will like the dinosaur!

  12. An interesting bit of failing-at-math in that article as well…

    “The patch wearer is put on a diet of 750 calories a day — about half the consumption amount suggested for the average adult female and one-third the amount for the average adult male”

    Hmmmmm… no.

    Try a little over a third of the intake for the average adult female and a little under a third for the average adult male. (30-37% based on those figures). I like how they even manage to slip that little gem in. Intentional, do you think? All those people who calorie count at the 2000cal level suddenly going OMG I HAVE BEEN EATING 500CAL A DAY TOO MUCH!!!11!!!!ONE

  13. I hope to God this means that nobody will ever again say “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”

    Things that taste better than this (I’m guessing) feels: Old aquarium gravel. Maggoty squirrel. Heating vent lint. Cat diarrhea. Stagnant lake water. The diaper that stuck to the bottom of the diaper pail that you didn’t discover for a month, whereupon you were relieved that at least something hadn’t died in the walls. Motor oil.

  14. I can vouch for old aquarium gravel being better than this. Erm. Just from using suction-tube tank vacuums, you understand. Suck too hard, and, well, it’s an experience.

  15. I had that experience just last week, Eucritta. Fish poop =/= yummy goodness.

    I just made dinner breakfast with chicken sausage and potatoes and asparagus and tomatoes and cheddar cheese in an omelet bake. With spicy peppers and fresh chives. OMG. Yummers.

  16. We have a plush baby diplodocus. It’s one of the best things in the world.

    Unlike the pain == eating equation, which almost kills refluxy babies quite a lot.

  17. The article says that 750 is “about half the consumption amount suggested for the average adult female and one-third the amount for the average adult male”.

    Last time I checked, 1,500 calories a day was a quite rigorous diet, not a standard female comsumption. Also, last time I checked, the margin between recommended calorie intake in men and women was 200-500, not 750.


  18. My mother’s friend had a kind of similar procedure awhile back – she actually paid to have this procedure where her lips were sewed partially together for 3 months so she could only have a liquid diet. She lost a lot weight, kept it off and…oh wait. Of course she didn’t keep it off. She gained back every pound after it was over and she began eating normally again, and is still dieting today.

    I can’t believe medical professionals actually allow procedures like this. Who actually thought they were a good idea ? :/

  19. Can’t I just blister my tongue with melty-hot pizza cheese from that fantastic Greek place down the street? Or cut my gums by horsing down cool ranch Doritos? Ooh, or maybe eat a bowl of dry Cap’n Crunch to get some really good mouth beef…

  20. I’ve never quite understood why I’m supposed to eat less than a man, anyway. I’m as big as a man and I work twice as hard. *And* I’m supposed to be living on less food? Lemme guess, this was published in the same study that validated the BMI scale — in the Cloud Cuckoo Land Medical Bulletin.

  21. wut.

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the body-starts-eating-itself-and-can-cause-brain-damage line was at 800 calories a day. So.. $3000 for possible brain damage? Where can I sign up??

  22. I will get one for my friend who is pregnant with a baby! I think the baby will like the dinosaur!

    Just want to make sure you looked at T-Rex’s dimensions… the baby will also be smaller than the dinosaur for a good year or two. Which, you know, a lot of babies would love that!

  23. @SjC ‘mouth beef’ – eeeuw!
    But that happened to me last week, so I’ll need to remember that term.

    Any comments on the impact to speach, breathing, or swallowing in the article? See, the tongue’s pretty important for a variety of reason, not just as the guardian to the gateway to your tummy.
    One is inclined to question the ethics of herr doctor.

  24. Rasha, body fat needs less energy than muscle to stay alive. Women, on average, are smaller and have more fat % than men. In general, a man needs a bit more energy than a woman who has a similar constitution, but how much exactly? It depends. The body does not use “fuel” the way an engine does and there are loads of fluctuations. And also, depending on who you ask, the relative truth “men need more” can go from <10% more to 33% more, as in this case.

  25. Oh my God. HOW IS THIS LEGAL???????????????????????????????

    HOW IS THIS LEGAL???????????

    Once more:

    HOW IS THIS LEGAL?????????????????????????

    This is horrific. Our culture is sickening me more and more every day I read these articles…I never knew how horribly desperate our society is making people…And the worst part?…People just nod their heads and think…” well, good for them…gettin’ thin.”

    How is this legal?

  26. I have been trying to process this in my brain for about half an hour now and I seriously cannot do it. So, OTM, I am with you! LET US TALK ABOUT T-REXES and their little lizardy eyes and adorable vestigial arms! I am totally going to get one next time I have some money, yep.

    … A plushie one, that is. I don’t think I could fit an actual life-size T-rex into my house, plus I have heard that feeding them can be difficult. Because they do not live on 750-calorie diets! Oh god I started thinking about the article again D:

  27. One is inclined to question the ethics of herr doctor.

    I suspect the good doctor’s ethics are well beyond our reach, having been jettisoned so emphatically as to be orbiting Mars.

  28. Can I just say thank GOD A-Sarah is back to lot’s of commenting? Aquarium gravel was funny, but the diaper in the diaper pail brought tears to my eyes. Sweet Jesus woman you are incredible.

  29. I can personally vouch for giant squishable T-Rex’s healing properties. I hugged mine last night while enjoying the final bites of the heavenly steamed artichoke I had for dinner, and for a moment, all was right with the world.

    (No I did not just eat artichoke – I also had linguini with clam sauce! OMG WHITE FOOD, LOOK OUT YOU GUYS)

  30. Oh this is just ridiculous. It reminds me a bit of the torture device my orthodontist installed on the roof of my mouth when I was about 12 – I lost a LOT of weight wearing it because eating (and drinking, and holding my mouth shut, and moving my tongue, and talking, etc) caused me a ton of pain.

    Here’s a picture of something like what I had, except mine had more spikes, they were longer and sharpened, and instead of tilting towards the front of the mouth they tilted back.

    I still have scars all over my tongue from that shit.

  31. You guys, this is so, so upsetting. My mom died from oral cancer (caused by a weird autoimmune disorder) that basically meant she had the same situation that this doctor is causing people. Her tongue was seriously messed up and it was really painful for her to eat a huge range of things, she was always hungry and in pain, and it was horrible. That this would be an ELECTIVE FUCKING PROCEDURE just makes me – I just can’t even say. I just had to close my office door, it actually made me break down. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US.

  32. KC, I’m so sorry. My mom could only eat liquids in the last month of her life, and she lost a shocking amount of weight. I thought of her, too, when I read about this.

    It’s obscene that anyone would market this for weight loss. It’s obscene that anyone thought of this for weight loss.

  33. This sounds more like a tim and eric sketch than a real diet-torture technique. I think i might perfer a synthetic stomach with a velcro emptying flap, though.

  34. Oh my God. HOW IS THIS LEGAL???????????????????????????????

    HOW IS THIS LEGAL???????????

    Once more:

    HOW IS THIS LEGAL?????????????????????????

    Yeah . . . I . . . No. I just keep coming back to this. HOW IS THIS LEGAL????

    Or, you know, even if it’s not criminal to SEW MESH TO PEOPLE’S TONGUE, I’m a lawyer, right? And before I could practice law, I had to take a legal ethics test (two of them, actually) and do a complicated application that involved assessing my ethical competency and now I have to adhere to specific standards of conduct that involve things that would not be against the rules for other people but are deemed important to protect my clients (e.g., there are limits on the advertising I can do). And if I don’t do those things properly, I can get in serious trouble by the state bar exam. And, not minimizing the serious impacts lawyers can have on people when they fuck up, I’M NOT ALLOWED TO CUT PEOPLE OPEN OR SEW THINGS TO THEIR TONGUES. Is there nobody watching what doctors are doing to make a buck? Is this seriously something that medical licensing whatevers don’t monitor? It’s just boggling. And terrifying. And what’s worse is that they might monitor doctors and think this is totally okay because it only affects the fatties.

  35. I feel so sorry for these people. How miserable they must be for this to seem worthwhile. And what a loathsome human being Dr Chugay is for exploiting their pain.

  36. “It gives us a chance to train the patient how to eat right, how to exercise right . . . so when they take the patch out, they will continue on a diet that is sensible,” said Chugay.

    How the FUCK does that make ANY fucking sense? How the fuck is eating a 750-calorie liquid diet “sensible”, how is it being trained to “eat right”?

    I have had enough of this fuckery.

  37. Also, how do you exercise if you’re eating only 750 calories a day? I think I would be hard pressed to get out of bed on that number of calories much less do anything even remotely active.

  38. @jenniferal – I’ve eaten about that much/little before and I found it depends on what you get those 800 calories from. Also, I’ve known people who at various points in their lives were practically starved, and did manual labor while eating less than that. So I’d guess part of it also must have to do with what your body is accustomed to. And you know, what it will do to survive. Still, you’re not going to feel good or be happy.

  39. @noceleryplease

    Plenty of normal people eat a liquid diet for various reasons. Being sick or disabled is pretty normal, just saying.

    And on topic. OMG why? I really want to have a long conversation with that doctor.

  40. Last time I checked, 1,500 calories a day was a quite rigorous diet, not a standard female consumption.

    Seriously. It’s kind of a tangent, but I got into this conversation with a personal trainer friend of mine the other day – after she started up with that “it’s just calories in vs. calories out” bs – telling her that when I was eating 1,500 calories a day and exercising 4 times a week I still couldn’t get below a certain weight. (I don’t do that anymore.) And she, with a straight face, said to me “well, that’s just not enough calories, your metabolism will slow down.” When I could speak again I was like “you JUST SAID it was simply calories in vs. calories out.” They can’t even keep their own story straight.

    That mesh thing is disgusting, I can’t even talk about that.

  41. Plenty of normal people eat a liquid diet for various reasons. Being sick or disabled is pretty normal, just saying.

    Right, the pain and the liquid diet are in and of themselves neutral. It’s the whole harming another human being for profit part that is a total fucking outrage.

  42. You know…earlier in this week, I somehow tore the skin on the roof of my mouth (how?!?). Hurts like crazy – in fact, whenever my mouth hurts, I literally can’t forget about the pain – it’s just always there, no matter what you do.

    Drinking hurts, eating hurts, everything except mouth breathing stings like crazy.

    Two things I can take away from this: First, I’m not eating less or eating a liquid diet. I’m just trying to eat as fast as possible to minimize the pain of eating. Second, there’s no money I wouldn’t pay for this to heal up faster – I can’t even imagine paying for this “privilege”.

  43. CL – that must have been frustrating to hear that from your trainer. The misinformation about calories and “it’s calories in versus out” thing infuriates me. I have always read in every magazine, diet book, etc. to eat the magic 1200 calories and exercise at least 30 minutes a day, and it wasn’t until reading around a lot more that most people need MUCH more food than that, especially when exercising. The body fights back against starvation after awhile, and some of us have bodies that are very resistant to getting under certain weights no matter how hard we work. It infuriates me to hear people who have never struggled a day in their life with weight that it’s “just that easy” to be thin. Sure it’s easy to be thin..when you’re NATURALLY THIN!

  44. “That’s 35 people who hate themselves so profoundly that they paid a doctor $3,000 to sew a pain patch into their mouths.”

    Yeah, that seriously made me cry a little. I’m, I…I just don’t even know what to say to this. I’d completely forgotten what it was like to hate the body you live in. Sadly I could almost imagine 13 year old size 6 me wanting this procedure. Almost 20 year old size 16 me burnt the roof of her mouth 2 days ago and it hurt to eat for a day and a half and can’t possibly fathom paying someone to hurt her that way.

    Just, god, gross.

  45. Wow, I am real good on that. I can’t believe any doctor would agree to that procedure. What ever happened to the Hippocratic oath?

    Depressingly, I can understand why some people would want this done to them. Anti-fat propaganda is fucking bananas in our society. It’s a constant barrage of “omg teh fattiez!” It’s like, if everyone keeps telling you that you’re unhealthy, ugly, reckless, stupid (are you sure you didn’t cheat on your diet? no? you must have cheated), a drain on the country (omg teh fattiez are bankrupting us with all their health problems!), and a public nuisance (i.e. teh fattiez ruin airplane rides boo!), you might start to believe them. And you might get desperate so you might pay $3,000 to torture yourself. Effed up. So effed up.

  46. I am in a situation right now where I can barely chew. All of my back molars are cracked and eating food- any food, even soft mushy stuff- is an incredibly painful experience. I have learned to swallow food mostly whole or drink a lot of broth or ensure or something to get me through the day. Every food experience brings some level or another of pain.

    The other day my boss caught me sitting in the very back of the store crying my eyes out because I’d gotten something wedged in my back molar and when I managed to pop it out my whole mouth felt like I had a live wire jammed in the molar (it felt worse BEFORE if you can believe it).

    I’m going to be paying a doctor a few thousand dollars to YANK ALL MY FUCKING TEETH OUT to FIX THIS because this SUCKS. Every time something goes in my mouth I experience some level of pain. Not as much as it could. I’m still able to get calories in me enough to survive, mostly due to my high tolerance for pain.

    Even so it’s really wearing me down, and I’m glad I’ll be able to fix it soon, but HOLY FUCK I CAN’T BELIEVE PEOPLE PAY FOR THIS EXPERIENCE. It makes me want to cry.


    (as a PS: I have had dental problems since I was young, and had my first two root canals at the age of six, so this is a persistently shitty problem.)

  47. I have a weird autoimmune condition that (among other things) causes me to occasionally get strange sores in my mouth – very frequently on my tongue. (Mine have so far been benign sores; @KC, I am incredibly sorry to hear what happened to your mom. My thoughts – and virtual hugs – are with you.) When I have a flare-up, eating solid food is extremely painful. And I cry pretty much every time I get them. I cannot fathom how anyone would want to inflict that sort of thing on themselves intentionally, for any reason.

    This whole thing just makes me sad and kind of hopeless. I try so hard to maintain a positive outlook about the world, but it’s just hard when something like this crops up. I hope that one day the people who felt they needed to injure themselves this way to be thin will find complete peace and utter happiness with their bodies, their images, and their lives. I will hope this for them all day, every day, and will think of them the next time someone tries to tell me that unreasonable standards of “beauty” aren’t a big deal.

  48. Gee, what a great idea (not).

    I have an incurable condition called recurrent aphthous ulcers (canker sores) that rears its ugly head once a month or so. If you’ve ever had a canker sore, you know that those little suckers hurt. A lot. Well, try, oh, 10 or so at a time. Excruciating pain, liquid diet, lots and lots of benzocaine and ibuprofen.

    Of course, it never results in weight loss.

    Sorry for the downer, I’m just…to use SM’s word, gobsmacked that anyone would choose mouth pain. Ick.

  49. @MaryB: My husband’s canker sores haven’t made him thin either. Maybe pain only results in weight loss when it costs a lot of money.

    I’m low on Sanity Watchers points this week, so I think I’ll skip the linked article for now and focus on the squishable T-Rex. It reminds me of a t-shirt one of my friends has which says, “RAWR means ‘I love you’ in dinosaur.”

    Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I’ll read the article.

  50. Well this ties in rather neatly with the theory that food has replaced sex as our official cultural source of guilt and temptation. Now we’re even installing hair shirts in people’s mouths.


    I have the Squishable Sheep. He’s great. Love to roll him down the hallway to scare the dog :D

    Squishables = love

  52. Y’know, every time I read something like this I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have a family that really, really doesn’t care about this stuff so long as we’re healthy.

    As far as I know, medical practitioners don’t really check up on innovative procedures, nor is there a lot of safety information on new medications/procedures (more for medications than procedures due to stricter FDA requirements and greater awareness of drug side-effects). I’m not a medical professional, though. This is probably totally legal and culturally approved while being morally bankrupt, vile, exploitative and dangerous like you wouldn’t believe. We treat people for anorexia and he’s planning on inducing it through pain. *brain melts in rage*

    I can only hope that at some point this doctor repents, because seriously? This has got to be a sin.

  53. 35 people so far at $3,000 a pop?

    That’s $105,000 before taxes in profitting off other peoples’ misery and the bullshit society shoves at us. Sick and sad, really.

    Seeing that number and saying it loud no less also makes me so goddamn mad at these doctors and these so-called experts who berate the working poor for their eating habits and so forth…yeah, easy for them to say at $3,000 a pop for further perpetrating this brainwashing that you just fail at life if you’re not thin.

    Gah I’m so sick of it!!!!! I’d rather be happy with my life at a size 24 than starving myself into insanity.

  54. First time poster, almost first time reader. Thank you for writing about this. If I had found the article I think I would’ve just sat here for an hour, like I just did then gone and stared in my fridge at my food and thanked it for having calories.

    I know that before I learned to love myself I could never be thin enough and I would have been willing to do this. Thankfully I am no longer 17 and I like me just fine. I am not skinny anymore but, I am happy. I fear the publicity that comes from this will cause more people to multilate themselves. As a person who almost always has disability on the brain due to needing to plan out my next two steps to get basic needs met I have to wonder… is the increase in disability in our country related to these diets and the constant malnutrition that people are forced to endure? Even when they are starving, insane (medically from the starvation), and healthy there is never enough.

    Take a picture of any woman who was in hollyweird a decade ago and look at one from today and that alone is proof something is wrong. Without proper nutrition you lose your health then you lose the option of starving yourself and gain more stigma societally than many can handle. What if this mesh causes infection? Will they just happily swallow their pus and call it food?

    Sorry, that was gross but not as gross as the profiteering by this doctor. I hope he is investigated and found to be in contempt of decent humanity.

  55. I think if forced to choose a torture, I’d pick a month long painful stamp in mouth over the three year “learning new techniques” slow and obsessive pain attempt as suggested by Mr. Ottawa Doctor of Coping With Teh Fatz.

    Mr. Ottawa’s approach might sound less violent, but unless he’s posting something greater than, say, a 10% success rate past 5 years, well then? He’s doing damage, promising long time lifestyle change. Painful stamp on tongue guy is like “YEP, it’s torture so you fit into your wedding dress. Have fun, girlz!”

    The first guy’s selling quackery dressed up in a lab coat. The second guy’s selling masochism dressed up in a lab coat.

    Damn, if someone started a class action lawsuit against the entire goddamn eat less and exercise more medical establishment, I WOULD SO SIGN ON. I’m so bitter I think the painful stamp sadist is at least *honest*.

  56. 1) I would vomit constantly if I had to keep any foreign object in my mouth for more than a few minutes at a time, let alone had it sewn to my tongue for a month. That’s real healthy, right? Nonstop retching?

    2) This diet plan is for a month? Then that pretty much rules out any “obese” person getting anything much out of it, because even if you lost 20 pounds in a month, that would not make a truly fat person anywhere close to thin, and you’d gain all the weight back within days of suspending the diet. This is for people with a “cosmetic” 20 pounds to lose, and fast (and, of course, temporary).

    3) Even so, that is some fucked-up shit. I would hate to live the kind of life where you are ever required to lose 20 pounds instantly for anything, at all costs. (Even actors who lose weight for a role are given a few months to do it.)

    4) The only thing that would make that T. Rex doll any cuter is if it played “Jeepster” when you squeezed it.

  57. How the FUCK does that make ANY fucking sense? How the fuck is eating a 750-calorie liquid diet “sensible”, how is it being trained to “eat right”?

    I have had enough of this fuckery.

    I’d like to nominate Whir for the best use of the word FUCK to describe this abomination.

  58. A.Sarah “Cat diarrhea”, thanks for mentioning cat diarrhea, it really is worth a mention now and then. If they thought to use it in military operations, wars would be solved overnight. “Hold your fire! Hold your fire! They have a D Bomb!” Dreadful weapon if used correctly, especially if they spread it in enemies kitchens and made them go downstairs first thing in the morning with no socks on.

    And the “medical procedure” that Sweetmachine describes. Holy hell. How profoundly sad that a doctor when faced with a patient filled with such terrible self loathing and desperation would do that to them. Just from a person to person compassion point of view, you do wonder how the doctor sleeps.

    I think quite a few family members and Mr Paintmonkey might like me to have some kind of mouth zip added occasionally, but not to stop food going in – just to stop pointless drivel coming out.

  59. @hsofia, good point, and actually you reminded me that way back when when I was a very young, very poor adult I survived for a while eating only saltines and peanut butter that my roommate donated to me because I couldn’t afford groceries – and I worked 2 manual labor jobs at the same time. I’m not sure how many calories I was eating, but it can’t have been much and I remember being hungry all the time. Still fat though.

    What I was thinking when I wrote that is how does having your mouth broken so you can eat only 750 calories a day do anything to teach you healthy eating and exercise habits because even if you could exercise it would probably be very tiring and miserable and not likely to make you want to continue exercising – since it would all seem like punishment.

    @Paintmonkey – if I stepped in cat diarrhea I think I would have to replace my feet.

  60. As they say: stop the world, I want to get off.

    I’ve had a tiny little wound in my mouth for this past week and when a bread crumb or something gets stuck in it, I practically howl. I can’t imagine how desperate you have to be to get this procedure done. I feel sorry for the people that have.

    This kind of fuckery also suggests that a lot of people would prefer to stop eating completely if that were a realistic option. It’s just that, to eventually become thin, they have to, you know, stay alive.

  61. Hey, I just noticed that I have two different monsters – one for my home IP, one for my work IP, I think?

  62. OMG Squishable Trex is squishing Admiral Ackbars!!!!!

    Wow, I just totally geeked out. Imma go eat some popcorn with a nonmeshed mouth.

  63. paintmonkey:A.Sarah “Cat diarrhea”, thanks for mentioning cat diarrhea, it really is worth a mention now and then. If they thought to use it in military operations, wars would be solved overnight. “Hold your fire! Hold your fire! They have a D Bomb!” Dreadful weapon if used correctly, especially if they spread it in enemies kitchens and made them go downstairs first thing in the morning with no socks on.

    No shit (pun totally intended). That stuff is lethal- magnitudes of 10 worse than cat vomit.

  64. Kateryna Fury: First time poster, almost first time reader. Thank you for writing about this. If I had found the article I think I would’ve just sat here for an hour, like I just did then gone and stared in my fridge at my food and thanked it for having calories.

    Yes, exactly. I haven’t directly commented on the main subject because all I have is “WTF. No, seriously. WTF”. Has this doctor no sense of ethics? Do we really need food “chastity” belts? Why the hell is this legal?

  65. For cat related vileness there is not a lot that can compare with standing barefoot on a freshly barfed up hairball from an extremely fluffly long haired cat.

    It is almost as nauseating as the idea of sewing something to your tongue.

    I mean your actual tongue, it’s the kind of image that would be considered a bit much for a hard core horror movie.

  66. How can anybody even manage daily functions on a 750-calorie diet? Wouldn’t these people become lightheaded, weak, and anemic? I saw a documentary about a reporter who was already thin, and she tried out an extreme diet just to see what would happen. Pretty soon she was too weak to open the doors of her office building, so she had to use the automatic doors. She was cold all the time and too tired to get out of bed in the morning. They should require that this documentary be played in the waiting room before people have this procedure done.

  67. Also, it just occurred to me that if you REALLY REALLY REALLY want something painful shoved into your mouth to make it difficult to eat, could you not just pay $20 and get a tongue piercing or something instead? Just remembering how when I got my lip pierced, I was on a strict diet of soup or things-cut-up-very-small for a couple of weeks because I couldn’t chew anything without it being massively painful. (And after about ten days, I was like OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE TO MYSELF, WHYYY. I love my lip ring and all, but I really wouldn’t like to go through the healing process again.)

    (nb: this is not a serious suggestion. I am not recommending that people get tongue piercings as a weight loss plan. Because that would be INSANE. Much like this bizarre tongue mesh crap.)

  68. I’d be so crabby on 750 calories/day that I’d rip the fucking thing out of my mouth after two days. I just…there are no words.

  69. As outrageous as this *medical procedure* is, and as ethically challenged as the doc appears, the actual harm he causes to people (in terms of sheer numbers) no doubt pales in comparison to the harm caused by certain celebrity doctors and psychologists (“Dr.”) trumpeting their snake-oil advise on daytime TV in the U.S.

    One Dr. O (on his recent 100-people-who-lost-100-lbs-mega-special-show)claimed that osteoarthritis in knees can be reversed through weight loss. Many of the “100 lb losers” in his audience lost weight at astonishingly dangerous rates through severe caloric restriction and hours of daily *cardio* and *strength* training (if their individual blogs are accurate), which actually puts them at higher risk for joint and bone disorders (due to demineralization). (And even those who lose weight more slowly cannot accurately expect osteoarthritis to magically disappear due to weight loss.) In addition, on another of his recent shows he *diagnosed* a popular celebrity guest, after a single finger stick blood glucose reading, claiming she has *prediabetes*.


    To paraphrase others here, I don’t know how any of this bullshit *medical* misinformation (going out over the public airwaves to millions of people) can be legal. These are false claims. Being made by a licensed doctor who has a HUGE following.

    How much more of this crap is the public willing to swallow? How much longer are leaders of the AMA and the ANA (American Nurses Assoc) willing to keep their heads up their asses?

    I am livid.

    If not for A.Sarah’s astute observations (re aquarium scum and overlooked diapers), I would still be crying with frustration and rage. Instead, my eyes are yet a bit watery from laughing uncontrollably. As if by magic, her commentary restored the health of my funny bone. Praise goddess for A.Sarah.

  70. Has this doctor no sense of ethics? Do we really need food “chastity” belts?

    No, he does not. $105,000 and upward for other peoples’ misery and enforcing this
    “be thin or you have failed at life” bullshit…but “food chastity belt”, that’s a good one!
    I gotta remember it.

    @ Leucrocuta– I’ve had my tongue pierced for 8 years and except during the healing
    process, I haven’t had any trouble eating or doing anything else with it. It’s the only
    non-ear piercing I got, I’ll take your word about lip piercings. My tongue was really swollen for a few days and I couldn’t eat or drink anything hot because it was irritating, this abated in about 8 days. But it sure as hell couldn’t compare with this $3K torture that’s supposed to go on far more than 8 days.

    And it does not surprise me that the degree-mill-piece-of-toilet-paper holding whackjob Meme Roth supports this extreme measure. I guess with her horseshit rhetoric to “multiply your goal weight by 10 and that’s how many calories you have in a day”, then that means we should all strive to weigh 75 pounds!

    Yeah, my life’s not worth living until I can fit back into my elementary school jeans! God what a fuckload of shit.

  71. Tyra (yesIstillwatchherdon’tjudgeme)actually did an episode about this and a bunch of other crackpot weight loss methods on her talk show last year. I’m sure that a decent amount of Googling can reveal video clips.

  72. @Rachel oh, I know piercings are fine once the healing process is done. The lip ring never gave me any trouble at all after the first two/three weeks, and I’ll bet it wasn’t half as painful as having mesh stitched to my tongue. (Plus, I got to wear pretty lip rings after it healed!) Still, I TOTALLY ATE LESS FOOD while it was healing, because chewing was painful. Which is all that counts, apparently!

    I don’t even know what to say about the “goal weight x 10” thing. I thought we were supposed to need around 2000 calories a day just to break even, as it were?

  73. That rumbling sound you can hear?


    Spinning in his grave so fast he’s likely to knock the planet off its orbit.

    What happened to the whole “First do no harm” thing?

  74. @McFly – you’re the first person I’ve encountered (IRL or web) who has also had one of those godawful things. Mine was on the lower jaw. There were no spikes (may I ask what the spikes on yours were for?), but I had to go in once every two weeks to get it tightened with a crank or key. For 2 or 3 days after that, eating much of anything just wasn’t going to happen.

    Why make up dangerous new procedures when good old fashioned orthodontic torture works just as well? Aiegh.

  75. “Right, the pain and the liquid diet are in and of themselves neutral. It’s the whole harming another human being for profit part that is a total fucking outrage.”

    @ Sweet Machine: I totally agree, I was just uncomfortable with the othering in that statement.

  76. If this is a total derail, I apologize and will promise to never do it again, but the physicist in me has to say something on the whole “calories in/calories out” thing.

    Yes, as it is preached by trainers, diet companies and even some doctors (aka Eat Less, Move More) it is snake oil and should be roundly criticized as such. However, so far as I know, the laws of thermodynamics do still work and if people try to call bullshit on thermodynamic equilibrium it makes one sound… well a lot like companies shilling products as “chemical free”.

    The problem (if it can even be called that) isn’t with thermodynamics, it’s with the fact that the bulk of our “calories out” are not, I repeat NOT, under conscious control. You can’t decide how much heat you put out, how much you fidget (you can try, but it will cease working the second you need to do something else with your brain like, for example, sleep), how fast or efficiently you digest your food, what your heart rate is, whether or not your immune system fights off an infection… and about a kabillion other processes that your body goes along doing or not doing with zero input from you or your personal consultant at Jenny Craig. We are not simple holding vessels for calories with a valve marked “out” that we can open on command (and thank Maude for that, because I certainly don’t want to have to think about all that stuff, I have trouble getting my laundry done). Our bodies are a complex and amazing system that can and will rob Peter to pay Paul so to speak until it eventually puts it’s foot down and says, “cut the crap” and makes you fall down, but to blame our inability to control that system on a failing of thermodynamics is just plain incorrect.

    /weird physics derail

  77. I’m guessing that, for a whole lot less than $3000/month, you could find somebody willing to follow you around and, say, poke you with a very sharp knitting needle every time you tried to eat solid food. And that would be just as sensible and just as healthy, not to mention more cost-efficient.

  78. Cassi,

    Yeah, it’s important to note that the calories out is regulated by your body and not a constant that you can work around. (I wrote a post on this on my blog because I was so sick of the whole “you don’t believe in thermo?!?” reaction that drives me nuts when I say calin/calout doesn’t work that way.)

    IMHO: It gets worse when you realize that our bodies aren’t perfect made-by-god machines that will cut every service EXCEPT “life support” and then start chewing into the energy stores – many times a body will cheerfully start cutting into life support systems before dipping into the energy stores, just because some people’s bodies are so programmed to store so strongly.


  79. Cassi-

    I’m a chemist, and I always want to shake people who say “It’s simple, calories in, calories out.” Because, dear Lord, it’s so much more complicated than that. That’s why we have biologists and biochemists and biophysicists and bioinorganic chemists and neuroscientists and all the bazillions of people who study bodies because WE DON’T UNDERSTAND THEM YET. We don’t know all the ways that the body uses and processes energy. If we did, then I know many people who would be out of a job right now. It’s totally more like calories in, calories out-in-lots-of-different-places-and-processes-we-don’t-understand-wow-this-is-really-complicated-who-understands-this-brain-hurts-now.

  80. Cassi, I think I am agreeing with you, and I will fully admit that I know very little about physics, but I do know a decent amount about anatomy and physiology and to me that knowledge supports the exact point you are making. I find it extremely hard to believe that, among all of the hundreds (or thousands) of processes our bodies carry out every day that are all just a little bit different from person to person, that what you eat and how it is burned and stored happens in exactly the same way in each unique body. Which is why these “global rules” of how to lose weight and fad diets fail. What works for one person (for a little while) may not work for anybody else. Am I sort of picking up what you’re putting down?

  81. One time while playing soccer, I took a ball to the chin hard enough to injure my jaw. It hurt to eat, talk, brush my teeth, etc. I was on a liquid diet for 2 weeks. Soup, soup, and more soup. I was surprised when I realized that I GAINED weight during that time. Then I remembered the daily milkshakes I drank. Ha. Anyway, you can torture yourself for weight loss, but that doesn’t mean it will work.

  82. Shoshie,
    I too wonder how anyone can make the incredibly simple statement “Its just calories in and calories out”.
    I’ve had classes in anatomy, physiology, human nutrition and one thing I can take away from that is things are pretty damned complicated!

    As for this surgery. For those who might be contemplating it, but just don’t have the money– Every time you eat a “bad” food (or maybe just any food) stab yourself in the eye. Soon enough you’ll associate eating with pain and voila! Watch the pounds melt away.

  83. CL, yes… the problem I have is only when people make statements (not that anyone did exactly this here) along the lines of “that thermodynamic equilibrium stuff is bull” as a shorthand when they mean, “I’ve tried decreasing my intake and increasing my CONSCIOUS output and it doesn’t fucking work”. Thermodynamics isn’t bull. The whole thing where matter/energy are not being created or destroyed or disappearing into thin air stuff is actually true. It just doesn’t manifest itself in weight loss quite the way Jenny tried to sell it, because the “calories out” is way more complex than parking is the farthest space or taking the stairs every now and again. Thermo works, but you can’t truncate the equation quite the way people do.

    And can I just say that I love that there is such an amazing cross section of thoughtful feminist geeks of various stripes here? I love it that I can write what I did as badly as I did (seriously, I need ParenAnon for those of us that abuse the parenthetical statement) and right off the bat three people totally get it.

  84. I had headgear as a kid while I had braces (metal piece that inserted into slots on my back molars and then was strapped around my head with extremely tough elastic). I tried, I really did, but my body wouldn’t keep it on. I was supposed to sleep in it every night, but I would take it off in my sleep. Some mornings I woke up and it was all the way across the room. It just hurt too much. The slow grinding ache from the braces themselves was all I could handle.

    This thing? Reminds me of that, only voluntary, expensive, not for any genuine impulse of health and WILDLY FUCKING UNETHICAL. I want to believe that even back on my most self-loathing, fat-shamed day I would never have considered something like this.


  85. @Cassi – I think you make a great point and I think it’s useful for everyone to understand that in order to be better equipped to counter the ‘calories in/out’ argument from whatever trolls they might stumble across in life (thank you mods for keeping them out of here).

    It’s not that the laws of thermodynamics don’t apply – to think that would be magical thinking, and if anything, that’s the purview of the dieting industry. It’s that we can’t control or even understand all the biological factors that affect the numbers that go into the physics equation (apologies for my humanities major physics terminology).

  86. Ooh, re: calories in/out–I agree with the basic physics of it, but I’ve decided that IME bodies actually don’t process the same amount of calories from the exact same food, or even the same kind of calories. My little brother is diabetic, and it is amazing how much he has to adjust for the way he knows his body responds to Food X. It may technically have the same amount and the same kind of calories as Food Y, but his metabolic response, measured by blood sugar, can vary enough that he has to adjust for it. White rice = much less a problem than for most diabetics, while watermelon = much more.

    So I theorize, because I have no qualifications for actual science but like making things up, that our bodies do in fact sometimes just dump calories that are excessive through normal digestive processes, or opt only to process the ‘easy’ calories. But bodies trained to extract EVERY DAMNED BIT OF ENERGY (your dieting or post-diet body) are going to process and digest until they get every possible calorie they can. I don’t think it’s simply a matter of burning calories through involuntary movement or twitching; I think your average body that has been well-fed for ever will respond to Thanksgiving dinner with an “I don’t think so” rather than a mad rush to the adipose cells.

    People who have actual training about human biology and digestion are welcome to burst my bubble, of course, but I can’t believe that our exquisitely-adaptive bodies aren’t capable of adjusting levels of processing as well as levels of energy storage.

  87. And can I just say that I love that there is such an amazing cross section of thoughtful feminist geeks of various stripes here?

    Amen, Cassi. Amen.

  88. I just recently discovered this site. I love all the comments.
    Its kind of funny, though. There are definitely more apologies for writing quality than I have ever encountered at other sites. The writing quality strikes me as pretty high (not claiming to be some ultimate authority)
    At first I chalked this up to the preponderance of women on the site. Then I thought, nahhh… there’s probably just a lot of women who actually read a lot. I find one side effect of reading good writing is that it makes you more aware of your limitations.

  89. Did someone call Amnesty International? I thought this was banned under the Geneva Convention, along with McFly’s orthodontic device. :o!!
    My sympathies to the posters whose loved ones dealt with the inability to eat during their last days, and to the lady who burned her mouth on the pizza. We had an antibiotic-happy GP when I was a kid. I have struggled with funky adreanals and thyroid since time immemorial, and he thought I had a chronic infection because of the fatigue. Well, all the tetracyclene and terramycin crapped out my immune system, and I had a bout of canker sores that lasted for a month. Anyone who would do this to themselves voluntarily needs to be committed since they’re a danger to themselves.

  90. @Starling
    Ooh, re: calories in/out–I agree with the basic physics of it, but I’ve decided that IME bodies actually don’t process the same amount of calories from the exact same food, or even the same kind of calories.

    I’m not a biologist, but that seems like common sense to me and not just for well fed vs veteran dieter bodies. The idea that ANY two bodies would both digest the same meal in the same way seems beyond absurd to me (even with identical twins it would depend on what else they ate that day and a myriad of other factors like dental health, how well they chew, how fast they eat, levels of hydration, stomach enzymes and bacteria in the gut… it’s wild how much is involved in digestion). Then, as anamardoll pointed out, what the body chooses* to do with the calories it does extract (life support, storage, extra heat, fidgeting, fighting infection) is a whole ‘nother issue over which we have zip control.

    * Is it possible to anthropomorphize the human body? If so, is it weird?

    I think it’s useful for everyone to understand that in order to be better equipped to counter the ‘calories in/out’ argument from whatever trolls they might stumble across in life

    YES! You’ve hit the the crux of why this bothers me. To simply say “calories in/calories out isn’t true” is to give those trolls the opening they need to say, “These fatties just don’t get it! Look, they’re denying the laws of thermodynamics!!” It takes a bit longer to go into why, though the theory is correct, the math is trickier than they thought, but at least we get the smug satisfaction of being unassailably right.

  91. Starling: Great point! Besides the fact that (sing it with me, choir) Teh Human Bodiez Iz Notz Bunzon Burner, eating is not the same as throwing a log on the fire.

    At each step, our gut is interacting with the food we eat, and the food that we eat is interacting with the other foods that are in the gut with it. Our gut is also interacting with our endocrine system and neuro-transmitters in hugely complex feedback loops. In fact – we don’t really have that great of an understanding of it at all – not primary scientists, not nutritionists, and certainly not physicians.

    Look, I love MDs, I work with them, publish with them, go out to dinner with them. I also used to help in the training for the baby ones (2nd year med students). Guess what – unless your particular MD got specialty training somewhere along the line, their training in nutrition specifically was minimal. Our 2nd year-course gave our students a 1hr lecture and another 2hr rotation with some hospital nurses, and that was the entire nutrition-specific extent of their training in 4yrs of med school. And AFAIK, it was a lot more than other 2nd year clinical- skills courses do.

  92. Back some odd years ago, I learned that calorie content was actually measured by burning the food and calculating the heat that came from it. It looks like calorie measurement has become somewhat more precise but is still basically the sort of squint-and-hope number that doesn’t deserve the veneration it receives.

    And hanging with diabetics (brother, boyfriend, other assorted acquaintances) has given me a much greater respect for the intricacies of the human metabolism.

  93. You know, there were times in high school I had canker sores so badly that I could not eat anything. They liked to form right where my back molars brush the inside of my cheeks (and would spread from there), and it was so bad once that I had to get a prescription for Lidocaine to even be able to speak. And that stuff tastes nasty, but it works for a short period of time at least (saved my butt in speech class I tell you). And yet, I didn’t lose weight because of them.

    Nor did I lose weight after having all four wisdom teeth removed and getting dry sockets in both of the bottom holes on top of strep throat that wasn’t diagnosed for over a week because I couldn’t open my mouth wider than the tip of my finger. I survived on smashed food (and I mean that I physically smashed what I could and shoved it in) and cereal bits. And rice pudding. Om nom nom.

    That’s after horrors of headgear and braces, like some of the others have mentioned. I still shudder at the thought of dealing with those ever again. Brrr!

  94. off-topic but something someone wrote in the comments reminded me of this book called the Hungry Gene. Great food for thought, pun intended. It is about the latest scientific research, as in, people in labs not hacks in tabloids, trying to understand what’s really going on in our genes and metabolism plus the effect of culture/advertising all contributing to our relationship with food.

  95. As a former braces user, I’d like to know exactly how the people with that horrible piece of mesh sewn to their tongues are supposed to maintain dental hygiene. Because I had days where I was in too much pain to even contemplate brushing my teeth. And when I got stitches in my mouth from taking out my wisdom teeth, I couldn’t clean off the stitches without tearing my flesh, so the stitches got vile and covered in plaque. How, precisely, are you supposed to clean off the plaque on that piece of mesh? Because if it hurts too much to eat solid food, it definitely hurts too much to brush it off. It’s going to get incredibly nasty and covered in bacteria. And then the germs and rotten food are going to a) make your mouth taste absolutely disgusting (and hello, halitosis!), and b) likely start an infection because they’re right next to open wounds from the constantly-irritated stitches.

  96. No, I… No, I just don’t have the words. Somewhere the dust of Hippocrates is rolling as fast as it can. Along with the dust of everyone else with any slice of intelligence (let alone morality) in the history of humanity.

    Squishy T-Rexes… yes. That sounds lovely. Though I think I’d like a diplodocus even more.

  97. @ McFly – I had that mo-fo on the bottom jaw, and an expandable palatal divider on the top jaw. Babuji would put a key in the palatal divider to expand it every night, and stretch the bone. AND YET! Even with these forms of orthotorture, plus four years of braces and a minimum of four sleepless night a month, I did not lose weight, and within two years of getting all of these devices removed, my retainer no longer fit, and now, my teeth are precisely as they were pre-orthodonture.

    @ Kateryna Fury – “What if this mesh causes infection? Will they just happily swallow their pus and call it food?” This is so disgusting, I can’t even think about it. And yet, I bet there are some people who wonder about the nutritional content of pus.

    @ bigbigtruck – I had the spiky version. I have very bad crowding in my bottom jaw, and the spikes went between the teeth to keep the teeth apart, I think. I was eleven. It was traumatic.

    For all of you who went through orthodonture, do you think it was worth it? As for me: no. If I have a child who wants it, I will be quite honest. I wonder if individuals who use this tongue torture device will feel the same way.

  98. I hated every moment of the braces process. Those were a couple of profoundly miserable years of my life. I still have dreams in which I can vividly feel the metal digging into my flesh. And I am really not thrilled with the prospect of wearing that retainer every night for the rest of my life. But I already deal with the hassle of wearing glasses every day, so I can accept a certain amount of technological intervention in my body. So I’m not really sure if the braces process was worth it. If I could time-travel and tell my younger self what it was like, it would almost certainly result in a parallel timeline in which I never got braces. And I don’t think that timeline would be very different at all.

  99. I had orthodontic treatments that involved, among other things, “fixing” tooth that “grew in backwards” – the normal front was facing inside and the normal back was facing outside.

    I found it to be worth while (I was in high school when I had them, I’m in my 30s now). BUT my orthodontist also told me that I needed to keep wearing my retainers at night on a regular basis or my teeth would move about because that’s what teeth kind of do anyway. So I’ve worn my retainers at least 2x/week since getting my braces off. I often wear them more, to be sure I keep the habit up. For me, part of my dedication to my retainers is because I fucking HATED wearing my braces, and was NOT ABOUT to let that suffering and my parents investment go to pot. *

    Everyone I know who had braces and stopped wearing retainers after getting the braces off has had their teeth move. If I had a kid who wanted orthodontia, I would tell them so. It’s a bigger commitment to keep teeth in place than to get them there. Like, the rest of your life.

    *not intended to offend anyone who hated wearing retainers after getting braces off, to to explain how I felt about braces & retainers.

  100. @McFly, I had one of those four-pronged torture devices too, on my lower-jaw brace! What a nightmare that was! It was supposes to “correct my swallow,” and every time I swallowed, my tongue was speared on the four sharp prongs. I took that one off my teeth that same day and refused to wear it ever again, which is why my tongue is not covered in scars. Years later I discovered I was right to do so, as it would never have been possible to “teach” my tongue to swallow differently. Only jaw surgery could have “corrected” my swallow in the way the orthodontist wanted. I had a few other torture devices over the years and years of misguided orthodonture… one that severed that little piece of flesh on the inside of my lip underneath my nose before I took it out… and rubber bands that attached my front upper molars to my back lower molars and that pulled my lower jaw out of its hinges and probably would have turned my temporary TMJ syndrome (which my orthodontist didn’t care about) into a lifelong condition if I had continued to wear them! Oh the sobbing and temper tantrums! My poor parents, who spent so much money and never knew if they were really doing the right thing or not, never knew if they should force me! (In the end, when I really refused, they didn’t force me.)

    I REFUSED TO WEAR TORTURE DEVICES IN MY MOUTH THEN, AND I REFUSE NOW. And not just because they made it hard to eat! That was only PART of how they made life a living hell! HOLY CRAP WHAT A HORROR SHOW.

  101. “For all of you who went through orthodonture, do you think it was worth it? As for me: no.”

    No for me, too, and I did it as an adult (for five years). Most of my previously healthy teeth are decaying wreaks now, and I have almost no protective enamel left on many teeth. It’s cost me untold pain, suffering, and expense in extractions, root canals, and crowns. I’m only in my 30s, but I now have worse teeth than many seniors. Please don’t ever do this to your kids. :-(

  102. Back some odd years ago, I learned that calorie content was actually measured by burning the food and calculating the heat that came from it. It looks like calorie measurement has become somewhat more precise but is still basically the sort of squint-and-hope number that doesn’t deserve the veneration it receives.

    While I agree that a calorie (or, you know, a joule) isn’t all that meaningful in terms of how much energy your body will actually get out of a substance, calorimetry ≠ squint-and-hope. It’s actually reasonably accurate and precise — and good thing, because those numbers are important for things other than food science and nutrition studies. They’re critical measurements for the rest of chemistry, too. But yeah, not necessarily so useful for nutrition.

  103. I had braces and would do it again because I really like having straight teeth. But, my experience wasn’t too bad – it was fairly recent and perhaps they have improved upon the devices because after an brief break in period for each phase of treatment, nothing was all that painful. I had a W arch to spread my palate, but it was more annoying than anything.

    However, I did recently have to have quite a few teeth filled, which makes me wonder about my enamel. I guess I had better start using that restorative toothpaste the dentist gave me.

  104. Recently, I visited a horrible local gynecologist. Before he even asked me what my problem was, he barked, “are you diabetic?”. I said no. He replied, “you want to get checked for that, at your weight.”. I was shocked. He then told me that because I had gone OFF birth control, I was not producing progesterone myself which means I’m not ovulating. He came to this “diagnosis” after no tests, or any questions about my cycles. I told him that my husband and I had decided to try to get pregnant, hence the no birth control. To which he replied, “I can’t recommend that at your weight.”.

    He told me I need to lose 75lbs which ‘may’ jump start my system. When I told him I had never been that thin, even when I played competitive volleyball, he suggested Medifast which is an extreme calorie controlled/portion controlled crash diet.

    I asked if there was a way to test my fertility to get to the bottom of the alleged not ovulating and he wouldn’t even discuss, just told me to get on a diet and return when I was thin and “healthy.”

    is it horrible that the first thing I thought when I read the article was ‘that may work for me and then I can have a baby’?!!? I have never been treated like less than a human being at the doctor’s office before.

  105. On braces: I had them for a total of 3 and a half years and I would say for me it was 100% worth it despite what a pain they were at the time. It may have been easier for me though because I was in middle school and many kids had them so I didn’t feel like a freak or anything. And my parents paid for them too so that was nice. I do wish I had worn my retainer consistently (I accidentally threw mine away – TWICE. Imagine explaining that to mom :/) because I have a bit of an underbite now from shifting but my teeth are still overall really nice.

  106. But volcanista, you do have to admit that incinerating a hamburger is pretty. damn. cool.

    I dunno, I was always fascinated with the crucible in chemistry class.

    My husband gets mouth ulcers, I cannot IMAGINE inflicting that kind of pain on yourself on purpose.

  107. I got braces as an adult – paid for it myself and wore them for three years. Totally worth it. I have ZERO regrets. I went with a really excellent orthodontist and had a clear objective in mind. I recommended him to several of my friends and many coworkers. Only one of my friends chose to go with him – the rest chose cheaper orthodontists, and some of them had pretty unsatisfactory experiences. From my perspective of talking to a dozen friends who got orthodontia after I did, the expression “you get what you pay for” seemed to hold really true. But I don’t know why that would be … fewer office visits? Different materials? More skillful technicians? Dunno. But I am really happy with the results and suffered no damage to my enamel or teeth (per my dentist).

  108. “Please don’t ever do this to your kids. :-(”

    I had braces as a kid for about 4 years, I hated them, but they were extremely necessary for both me and my sister. We have ridiculously small mouths and our teeth grew in freakishly and unhealthfully. It was def. worth it for us (though I rarely wore my retainer so mine aren’t as perfectly straight as my sister’s). I have a friend who has had just gotten her braces off, she’s had them for 8 years including headgear and she says it was worth it too.

    Experiences differ greatly and I’m sorry your braces didn’t work out, it actually isn’t just “you get what you pay for” it’s often “you end up paying for an asshole through no fault of your own.” However, telling people not to get braces for their kids is not the right thing to do, I think it could be mommy shaming in fact and ableist. It’s not always for vanity, for my mom, my sister and I, if we hadn’t gotten them as children we would have had serious dental issues as adults.

    And us Shapelings know pretty well that even if it is for vanity, well that’s probably worth it a lot of the time too. I got made fun of a lot as a kid for my teeth and my dad is still self concious about his, also doing it as an adult can be tricky.

    I’m sorry about your experience, though.

  109. “also doing it as an adult can be tricky.”

    Umm…haha, by that I meant getting braces. I know some businesses are going to be reluctant to hire someone with braces, and it carries a social stigma with it. There’s also an interesting tie in with classism there. I know a lot of people get braces as adults to kind of distance themselves from lower socio-economic classes that can’t afford to buy braces for their kids.

  110. Volcanista–
    I don’t want to diss the actual process of calorimetry in general. I just think it’s weird when applied to Jello. Burning with fire is just not even the same general process as human digestive chemistry resulting in ATP. It’s not the burn-and-measure I object to, but that someone came up with a conversion table a hundred years ago that essentially guesses how stored chemical energy released through combustion –> available energy produced in human digestion. That seems hardcore dodgy to me.

    I think what I’m objecting to is not the idea of a measurable calorie, but the idea that a calorie is really a meaningful or consistent measurement within the human metabolism, since its actual definition is simply the amount of energy required to heat a kilo of water one degree. It’s probably a useful ballpark figure, but it’s a total YMMV sort of thing. Literally–your mileage per hamburger/candy bar/whatever will certainly vary. So all this pseudoscience weight loss garbage with food scales and calories burned per minute on treadmill and what have you is probably not accurate enough for any given individual to justify the enormous time and energy wasted on it. I imagine that it’s a much better tool when used to, say, plan appropriate meals for large groups, or compare the energy density of one food to another. But to determine what fraction of a cookie is equivalent to walking a mile? Eh, I am a skeptic.

  111. Isn’t ~750 calories a day what the Nazis gave to the factory slaves in WWII? Enough to keep them alive and working for a few months until their replacements arrived but not enough for them to have energy to revolt?

    Had to go to the google. Looks like they might have gotten more than that: the eastern workers in comparable jobs received only 2,000 calories. The eastern workers were given only 2 meals a day and their bread ration. One of these two meals consisted of a thin, watery soup. I had no assurance that the eastern workers, in fact, received the minimum which was prescribed.

    Anyhow, I thought I read a figure of 800 calories once, but my husband is making bacon and I am hungry and too lazy to do more research.

    This doctor is a jerk. 750 calories is ONE MEAL.

  112. Unfortunately, I live daily with the “calories in, calories out” dogma, and I would love to tell people that measuring calories provides you with a “ballpark figure” but not a precise calculation. And that measuring and tracking calories sucks the life force from you. Yesterday, someone said that one regular m&m is “burned off” by walking the length of a football field. I was running late, and didn’t have time to say that one regular m&m can power a brain for x amount of time (mine requires more, but provides a greater return as well) that these are AVERAGES. To think you could have the precision of one m&m is ludicrious.
    I did a presentation recently where I preached HAES fast and furious and deeply integrated into “it’s your body, here are some general operating instructions that may provide guidance — not stuff you don’t already know — but you can tinker and experiement and if you feel you need to, check in with an expert” presentation, which was received well. I talked about aligning your actions with your values — to me this could be localvore, carnivore, whathaveyouvore — not external pressures. And I talked about getting support when there’s a tough change you are facing that you want to make. And that it’s bullshit that the best way to make change is to set a goal and break it down into managable bits. That works for some people, for some changes, some of the time, but sometimes, quitting smoking happens because you get pregnant and the thought of smoking suddenly fills you with nausea, and you’ve found that you don’t go back, or, if you are like me, the mere thought of full-fat milkshakes causes you to vomit because of the volume of lactose they contain, so even though nostalgia sometimes makes you want one, there is no amount of lactose-be-gone enzyme in the world that will offset the effects of that on your digestive system. Not that milkshakes are bad, but in my body, there are other forms of delicious energy that fit in better with my life. MY body. MY life. MY decision. (and MY tongue, thank you very much, that I may occassional choose to temporarily damage with too many Lemonheads.)
    /end rant.

  113. Unfortunately, I live daily with the “calories in, calories out” dogma, and I would love to tell people that measuring calories provides you with a “ballpark figure” but not a precise calculation. And that measuring and tracking calories sucks the life force from you.

    I too live with the daily logs of carbs/bread units vs basal rates and boluses (type 1, got a pump and even a CGM… which is a total kick if you’re a numbers geek), but interestingly I don’t feel it sucks the life out of me and I wonder if that’s a side effect of not being type 2. Type 1 give one the “not correlated with being fat” get out of jail free card. For me the tracking has never been about weight loss dieting or anything other than, you know, not dying, so it doesn’t hold any of those life sucking connotations it does for so many people (boring as hell and a pain in the ass, but not life sucking). It’s sad to me that people have turned a task that some of us are forced to do and made it into a national pastime (which I guess is a lot like this stupid tongue thing)

    And oh yeah, ballpark is generous. Put a well calibrated CGM on two different people, give them the same bag of M&Ms and watch the data… That “ballpark” better be the Superdome.

  114. I had braces and I’m glad I did, but the reason I had them was because I have this genetic quirk where the adult lateral incisors in my top jaw never came in. I just don’t have those teeth. So between the time I lost my baby teeth and the time I got braces, my canines drifted over into the gap between my two front teeth and my two first molars. With that, huge purple-framed glasses, and wing bangs, I looked like the world’s dorkiest vampire. It took about four years, I think, to shift my canines back to where they were supposed to be. But I had to do it if I wanted to have bridges or implants, because if I didn’t, I’d just have enormous gaps.

    I don’t actually have a retainer for my top teeth: I think the bridges hold everything in place. Even if I still had my retainer from when I got my braces off, I couldn’t wear it because it had teeth on it.* I want to get implants someday because the bridges aren’t supposed to last forever and flossing over the top of them is an enormous pain; maybe they’ll make retainer noises at me then.

    *true story: when I had my retainer -with-teeth, I used to take it out to amuse little kids. My mother thought that was disgusting.

  115. I went to an orthodontist about a year ago to talk about getting braces (if my teeth had been a couple of millimetres further out of place than they are, I could have had it done free as a child on the Health Service). He took one look in my mouth and sucked his breath in between his teeth in that “this is going to be expensive” noise that experts make sometimes. He told me he couldn’t do anything to my teeth till I’d seen a periodontist to clean up a gum disease I hadn’t known I had. That’s done now, so I’m going back to him shortly.


  116. You know, all you guys talking about plushy T-rexes, at first I thought you meant this guy:

    But I clicked on the link and the other one is pretty cute too.

    As for the subject of the post, holy Hannah! You know how there are certain medical procedures (that rhyme with shmashmortion) where you have to have pre-counseling in some states and waiting periods and stuff? Here’s a case where I would dearly love to sit down and pre-counsel the patients going in for the tongue surgery, and with all possible sympathy and affection tell them, “You don’t need this and it won’t help you achieve your goals. And you don’t deserve the pain.”

  117. @asarah To add to the list of “things that taste better than this procedure feels”:

    Absentmindedly sucking at the chocolate smear on your t-shirt and THEN remembering that

    1) You have been holding your small infant recently and

    2) You haven’t actually had any chocolate today.

  118. It makes me sad that the guy who does this to people calls himself a doctor. He clearly does not understand what it means to be a doctor, let alone a good one. It makes me equally sad to know that there are people out there who consider this an option. I’ve had facial surgery (septoplasty). Unfortunately, the procedure made it extremely painful to chew. I couldn’t move my jaws well, so I also couldn’t really brush my teeth, talk, kiss, etc. Those were the most miserable two weeks of my life and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. However, the experience really put eating into perspective for me. It’s funny how when you can’t eat, food suddenly becomes something inherently good that provides sustenance and enjoyment, instead of some evil being that’s out to destroy your skinny waist.

  119. Oh, and regarding the calorie-in/calorie-out issue: In my gastroenterology class in med school we learned that foods have a POTENTIAL caloric value, meaning that there is a certain amount of calories that can potentially be absorbed. But how many of those calories get absorbed is different. Let me give a drastic example. If you’re lactose intolerant, your body is unable to split lactose, which is a disaccharide. An intact lactose molecule cannot be absorbed into the intestinal walls. Therefore, people who are lactose intolerant “lose” the calories from the two sugar molecules that make up lactose (galactose and glucose), because they get discharged, resulting in the same food giving them less caloric value. This happens in healthy individuals, too, not just in those with digestive issues (although it’s better understood in those). So that’s the first step. What happens to those calories after they have been absorbed into the blood stream is another story entirely and that also differs between individuals. For example, some people’s metabolism generates a lot of heat, which is basically energy lost to the environment, some people’s bodies store energy as fat instead.
    The big problem with medicine is that its subjects are different in many regards, but in order to develop strategies for dealing with disease you have to make generalizations. Any assumption is really only ever true for those in the middle of the bell-curve.
    I hope this was clear enough. English is not my native language, so I apologize if nobody understands what I’m trying to say. :-)

  120. everstar: Grownups are supposed to find the things that amuse kids disgusting, they wouldn’t be amusing otherwise.

    spuffyduds: Please tell me you’re speaking hypothetically.

  121. Can we add in the feeling of getting out of bed only to step on a cold, dead, slightly squishy mouse that your cat has kindly left you as a gift to the list of comparable things?

    I’ve lived on less than 750 calories a day and would consider this plan to be a violation of the Geneva Conventions. I mean, I didn’t actually die, but I kind of wanted to. Not to mention the frequent random crying, the stomach pains, the generalised weakness, and the compromised immune system that led to an otherwise healthy teenager having bronchitis for more than a year because I was too weak to shake it off.

    People really have completely lost any sense of what’s a normal amount to eat. 1500 calories a day is average for an adult woman? Then again, a while back I had a bunch of people on Jezebel argue with me that the normal caloric intake for an adult woman should actually be about 1200 calories a day. Which used to be what diet plans stipulated, now apparently it’s become what’s considered a non-dieting average intake.

  122. Cassi: Diabetes IS the numbers geek’s condition, isn’t it? My brother is a diabetic, too, and he makes micro-tuning boluses into an Olympic-grade past-time. I find it tedious and frustrating sometimes. Guess which one of us is the details oriented applied maths person? Also… so not the same kinds of diabetics- we had pretty different childhood experiences of the condition because our bodies were (and are) so different.

  123. Cassi — when I was pregnant and relying on injecting insulin to manage diabetes, I didn’t find that counting carbs “sucked the life force out of me” — measuring and calculating and trying to approximate a rapidly moving target was something else entirely.
    I was calorie savvy enough at that time to focus on carbs while keeping a ballpark figure in mind, calorie-wise. I didn’t worry about saturated fat intake, and didn’t have any blood pressure issues, so sodium wasn’t a big worry either. I could mostly just stick to a carb-to-insulin ratio as what I focused on, and didn’t shy away from carbs as much as count them as accurately as possible. I was lucky to have been managed by a physician’s assistant who wasn’t focused on my weight — I probably gained about 30 pounds during pregnancy. I was also lucky to have a healthy baby whose size was right around the size we would have expected, based on both sides of the family, just under 7 pounds. The goal was healthy baby (and was only partially under my control and happened in part by luck) and doing all I did for that goal was hard at times, but ultimately energizing. I realize this was also time-limited, I was able to transition back to oral meds when I stopped nursing — so all together, I needed (added) insulin for about 3 years.

  124. Jenna Smithson – I’m not a doctor and I’ve never been pregnant, but what the holy FUCK?!?!?! I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Fat women have been happily having babies since when? Oh yeah, forever. Isn’t it weird how early fertility goddess statues are almost uniformly fat? It’s almost like a fat body is perfectly compatible with fertility, barring other medical issues. And almost as if those medical issues can occur regardless of size. Plus, any diagnosis of your fertility status based on looking at you is BULLSHIT.

    Hopefully there’s a Fat Friendly Health Professional in your area who can refer you to someone who isn’t a bigoted sack of shit, or if not there’s some information here about finding one for yourself. There are also plenty of stories at First, Do No Harm of other people who’ve been (mis)treated by asshole doctors based on nothing but their size. The problem is not you, it’s them!

    Your doctor works for you and you deserve better. Best of luck in finding it.

  125. Re: orthodontia. It was sorta worth it for me. I did have one problem that I’m glad was corrected — an overbite where my lower front teeth were painfully rubbing the skin behind my upper front teeth — but kinda wish that we could have stopped with that. Nothing else was really wrong, so it seems like money, time, and discomfort spent on addition “problems” that weren’t really necessary.

  126. People really have completely lost any sense of what’s a normal amount to eat. 1500 calories a day is average for an adult woman? Then again, a while back I had a bunch of people on Jezebel argue with me that the normal caloric intake for an adult woman should actually be about 1200 calories a day. Which used to be what diet plans stipulated, now apparently it’s become what’s considered a non-dieting average intake.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  127. @ Jenna Smithson – god almighty, that’s awful. :( I really hope you can find a different gyn who will help you and, y’know, treat you with basic respect.

    FWIW, while my body is obviously not your body and my story is not your story, I weigh around 265 lbs and am coming to the end of a perfectly healthy pregnancy. I don’t know what is causing your problems, but it sure as hell is not a given that fat women cannot/should not get pregnant. It’s obscene that this arrogant fuck wants you to lose 75 lbs before he’ll even consider any other possibilities.

  128. I think one thing to keep in mind about what level of calories is considered “normal” and “appropriate” is that our society has not yet found the Acceptable Level Of Thinness. Doctors who are happy to have their minute on the air or to get quoted in a newspaper will address their weight loss advice to everybody, without qualifiers. “We could all stand to lose a few pounds.”

    None are righteous. None!

    So to a lot of people, how many calories we should be eating is not a factor of what it takes to maintain a healthy body… maintaining is not the goal. It’s losing, always losing. And since no amount of calories that will actually see a body through to the end of its life cycle will sustain weight loss indefinitely, the number’s always going to be trending downward.

  129. I’m really happy to hear that most of you fellow Shapelings who’ve undergone orthodonture had a more positive experience than I did! I’d hate to think that it was pointless suffering for everyone who does it. But as for Vidya and the rest of us, at least we know we weren’t the “only ones” who regret our experiences.

    @ Jenna Smithson – Your gyn sounds horrible! Do you think that he is being disingenuous in regards to your ovulation status, just to postpone your pregnancy until you lose weight? Because that’s just about the worst thing I’ve ever heard. A less-than-honest doctor is a bad doctor, and so is a prejudiced doctor. I will send blessings and hope to you that you find a better doctor and have a healthy pregnancy and a happy baby.

  130. “I’m guessing that, for a whole lot less than $3000/month, you could find somebody willing to follow you around and, say, poke you with a very sharp knitting needle every time you tried to eat solid food.”

    I remember reading, years ago, an episode of Bud Grace’s cartoon Ernie where dr Pork was trying to quit smoking with several crazy methods, including 1. paying a guy to throw a bucket of water at him whenever he lit a cigarette, and 2. putting on a thumbscrew, tightening it every time he took a puff on the cigarette, and smoking for as long as he could stand the pain. (not using both methods at the same time…).
    I would never have guessed that the thumbscrew method would be used FOR REAL. To stop people from EATING. By DOCTORS (which was not the case in the cartoon!).
    Because food is poison and torture is good for your health!?
    (Damn it, someone else got there before me with the “hypocritic oath” comment… :-) )

  131. God, what a disgusting procedure. It sounds like a medieval torture device or something! Sorry, but whenever I see things like this that say “Oh, drastically reduce calorie intake and do lots of physical activity” it makes me think of those incredibly tragic pictures of Holocaust victims where you could see their spines through their stomachs, every bone in their bodies sticking out. Has our society actually gotten to the point where certain people *cough MeMe Roth cough* think that those photos are something to ASPIRE to, because, hey, being starved to death is better than being an OMGDEATHFATTIE!11!? Seriously, I watched the obesity debate on Nightline and I alternated between deeply fangirling Crystal and Marianne and wanting to punch MeMe and the other diet lady. The fact that MeMe advocates this procedure is just…thoroughly unsurprising, actually, and just makes me hater her more. I just feel like giving hugs to the poor folks who’ve had this done-how much would you have to hate your body to even consider this? Excuse me, I want to hand in my human card and become…I dunno, a cat or something. I don’t want to be part of any society that fat-shames to such an extent that people will literally torture themselves to be thin. It seems like something out of a dystopian sci-fi novel, not something that is actually happening today.

  132. I want to hand in my human card and become…I dunno, a cat or something. I don’t want to be part of any society that fat-shames to such an extent that people will literally torture themselves to be thin. It seems like something out of a dystopian sci-fi novel, not something that is actually happening today.

    Jamie, that is the truest and most intelligent statement I have heard in an extremely long time. If only it was just a sci-fi novel, but nope, that’s how much the world today sucks nard.

  133. @wellroundedtype2
    doing all I did for that goal was hard at times, but ultimately energizing.

    Yes! That’s it exactly. When the supposed goal (even if it’s not YOUR goal, but just the goal every Tom, Dick and Harry walking by decides to assign to your behavior) involves shame and self-hatred (IE, purposeful weight loss) the life sucking begins, BUT when the goal is worthwhile like, you now, staying alive or making a human being, then all the crap doesn’t really feel all that crappy. People in FA talk about how HAES changed their experience of exercise, because for the first time it wasn’t just torture you had to endure to be worthy of eating a cupcake, but was something you do to make yourself feel better. I suspect it’s a similar experience.

    I wonder if your experience on oral meds is slightly different simply because the allowable margin of error is greater making each instance of carb counting slightly less terrifyingly death defying and slightly more tedious and soul sucking. Though I don’t discount the societal input of making all type 2 diabetics feel at fault for a disease we really know almost nothing about. I can’t even begin to express my disgust with that, but that’s another whole issue.

    @AnthroK8, oh my yes, I can’t even imagine the pain of being a non-math geek diabetic. I know of one diabetic (through a support group) who is non-neurotypical in a way that makes even simple maths difficult and his life is really quite hellish. Personally, I love it and keep all sorts of really pathetic little multi-colour charts on my iPhone. Is anyone here old enough to remember The Breakfast Club? Pathetic and sad, but social… yeah, well I wasn’t just IN the physics club, I was actually president.

    I can’t believe I said that out loud.

  134. 750 calories? How the hell is that healthy? I always assume that anyone who thinks that less than 1600 calories is just perfectly honky dory needs to read about the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. I like how it’s detailed in junkfood science

    Curiously enough, in more places than one, the above study has been called “the definitive research on the subject” so you’d think it’d be required reading for nutritionists and the like. And yet… *sigh*

    I also like the above study for discussing the psychological affects of starvation and what the study calls “semi-starvation”, citing instances where the participants of the study felt “overweight, moody, emotional and depressed.” According to this, “A few even mutilated themselves, one chopping off three fingers in stress. They lost their ambition and feelings of adequacy, and their cultural and academic interests narrowed. They neglected their appearance, became loners and their social and family relationships suffered. They lost their senses of humor, love and compassion. Instead, they became obsessed with food, thinking, talking and reading about it constantly; developed weird eating rituals; began hoarding things; consumed vast amounts of coffee and tea; and chewed gum incessantly (as many as 40 packages a day). Binge eating episodes also became a problem as some of the men were unable to continue to restrict their eating in their hunger.”

    Sounds a lot like someone on a constant diet, huh? Really makes you wonder if some (obviously some are also society induced) of the feelings of desperation and inadequacy are due to the fact that a lot of fat people are on a sort of constant diet, rather than the more popular contention that being fat makes you a sad, sad, desperate person by default.

  135. Here is a really important part of the Minn. Semi-starvation study. The participants were all men (mostly Amish, IIRC) who were concientious objectors to WWII. They volunteered as a way to help out with the human aftermath of WWII, without bearing arms or otherwise violating their religious/ethical beliefs. The ones who participated in the MSSS were specifically chosen due to their extremely high functioning at baseline with regards to physical, emotional and psychiatric status.

    The psychological and physical symptoms they showed were thus the primary effects of caloric restriction itself – and these showed up on a diet calculated to be 50-75% of their normal caloric need.

    The MSSS was designed to elicit the effects of chronic food shortage, and more importantly, what the best strategies for restoring health and nutrition might be. The goal was to help with the massive diaspora in the wake of WWII, and the millions who would need food aid and had suffered on insufficient nutrition. One of the most important findings was that after starvation, the body craves a high-carb diet, and many participants had this craving for more than 1yr after the study ended. However, a diet with a 30% fat, 30% protien, 40% carb content at meals was shown to restore health and function best, and seemed to help with the carb-cravings. Contrast this with our current focus on low-fat or no-fat everything!

  136. Also, as far as “calories-in-calories-out-is-wildly-different-for-each-individual-person”: I teach college-level introductory biology. Our students learn that the energy yielded by metabolizing a single molecule of glucose is a number that they can’t actually memorize because IT VARIES. If INTRO BIO students can be reasonably expected to know that metabolizing ONE molecule of glucose will produce different amounts of ATP under different circumstances, how fucking hard should it be for DOCTORS to realize that different people might, just possibly, experience different metabolic yields from the same food?

    Sorry, my shift key got stuck.

    No it didn’t, I’m just angry.

  137. The thing about calories in/out is that when you don’t get enough calories, you will not have the energy to put calories out. When you reach a certain point, your body will fight you. I became interested in fat acceptance precisely because of this. I went on a diet and lost a lot of weight and it wasn’t even that hard (even though I was realistic and knew I would gain a lot of it back). Then when I reached a point where I was still 20 pounds “overweight” by medical standards, everything changed. I followed the exact same diet I had been on, but I stopped losing weight. Instead, I became very weak and tired. I nearly fainted several times and I have never, ever fainted before in my entire life. Standing up to take a shower became exhausting. I thought I had an iron deficiency, so I got tested and my iron was fine. It’s really difficult to get those calories out if you’re too weak to get out of bed, let alone do some intentional exercise. My body got used to a certain amount of calories (about 1200 FWIW), and then found a way to survive on that amount, which meant preventing me from doing any physical activity. After a few weeks of this, I added more food to my diet and I perked right up within a week. Thermodynamics still works, but the “calories out” part of the equation is really hard to control.

    I’ve actually heard people on the other side claiming that thermodynamics is false. I tried to explain that it’s very easy to gain 10 pounds over a decade simply by eating one extra apple per week. I even showed the (extremely simple) math, so there wasn’t much he could to refute me. So he came up with some silly argument that a calorie from an apple isn’t the same amount of energy as a calorie from chocolate, as though your body would somehow know that you had sinned and make you gain more weight. He just didn’t want to let go of his belief that all fat people just stuff their faces constantly with food that he deems as unhealthy. (Although if someone did do that, they’re still human and deserve to be treated as such.)

  138. @Rachel: “FWIW” = “for what it’s worth”

    @everyone: Thank you for this discussion! I always splutter at the “calories in/calories out” people, but never had this kind of clear, concise information before (so I would just splutter something about metabolism and famine mode).

    (And also thank you for the plush toy links, and for not *too* much talk of gross things to put in one’s mouth…)

  139. I’ve actually heard people on the other side claiming that thermodynamics is false.

    There are very few straight-up, this-is-always-true, outright LAWS in science. We tend to know something is true but are too cautious to come out and say it, so we make it a theory. So when there are actual, you know, LAWS (plural) about thermodynamics, perhaps one can infer that thermodynamics is one of the very few things in this world upon which we can rely. I wish I knew who made that claim so I could go find him and stamp “Laws of the Universe FAIL” on his forehead.

  140. @Catgirl So he came up with some silly argument that a calorie from an apple isn’t the same amount of energy as a calorie from chocolate, as though your body would somehow know that you had sinned and make you gain more weight

    Well, he’s not wildly off base to think that perhaps the body can extract more energy from a processed simple sugar candy than it can from an apple. That is “perhaps” as in maybe, as in I’ve never seen a study on apples vs chocolate, but it’s not, you know, the most whacko thing I’ve ever heard, though his moralistic explanation of why is certainly a load of hooey. My understanding is that body only has so long that it will hold onto something and chew away at it (in various ways) before it gives up and just passes it along (if you’ve ever eaten corn, you’re familiar with this idea), so it’s conceivable that it might give up on some of the calories that a bunsen burner might get out of the apple. But it’s not because one is “good” and the other is “bad” it’s just that one has calories that are potentially more metabolically available than the other. And really that’s the whole point, you can’t tell by some calorie chart how a certain food is going to interact with the human body on any given Tuesday. It’s just not that simple a thing.

  141. Ug. The calorie discussion is giving me hives. I think I might be allergic to the “c” word.

  142. That’s what always got me at school about the “burn the piece of food completely in a calorimeter and that’s the calories” thing… we don’t get all the energy out of the food in our bodies in the same way that we do by setting it on fire. There’s bits of food left over. We SHIT, folks.

  143. @badhedgehog: “There’s bits of food left over. We SHIT, folks.”
    Well, dear, that’s just mere mortals like you and I. You know, us people who are tragically addicted to food to the point where we actually *gasp* depend on it to live. Those superior people who live by photosynthesis only enrich the world with the pure oxygen they release, supplemented by the nutritive content of their self-righteousness rays.

  144. Wow, that lookatthisfatperson site sure seems to prove that, to many people, whether or not somebody is fat is determined by whether or not they’d want to have sex with them.

  145. And no matter the *reason* for being a fattie, we still deserve basic human respect.

    The whole site just seems like trolling on a grand scale. I’m not sure it’s worth spending sanity points trying to convince the people who post there that, you know, people are human and all that. But if people have that energy to spare, I’m happy to cheer them on!

  146. That site link reminds me of something my SO said … “There are a lot of ways I could try to make a lot of money, but I need to be able to live with myself.”

    If someone is really interested in protesting that site, writing to their advertisers might be the best bet. Cuz I’m pretty sure the site owner(s) knows they’re a douche(s).

  147. So these assclowns just randomly snap photos of fat people and exploit them on that website…?

    For the first time in my life I’m speechless.

  148. Dammit, now I’m going to have to stop going to Look At This Fucking Hipster, because they’re run by the same people.

  149. @Rachel – no, they don’t take the photos – people SEND them the photos. Which is worse, because that means there are LOTS of assclowns. *sigh*

  150. That website makes me so sad disgusted. Their are A LOT of fat people out there. How would the owners of that website feel if pictures of their mothers, or siblings, or friends were submitted? Do they really think people just deserve to be put on display like that without their consent? For doing NOTHING other than be above a weight that they deem acceptable? (Or fuckable, as someone upthread said.)

    I really hope nobody whose picture was sent in to that site finds out about it – I can’t imagine how much that would hurt. :(

  151. Dammit, now I’m going to have to stop going to Look At This Fucking Hipster, because they’re run by the same people.

    Oh goddamn. How disappointing.

    Y’all, please remember that when you find out something hateful is out there, you don’t have to click it if you don’t want to trip your rage-o-meter. We know that there’s a lot of fatphobia out there, and we are fighting against it (I mean all of us), so you don’t have to voluntarily expose yourself to more. Be good to yourself.

  152. @catgirl: “I’ve actually heard people on the other side claiming that thermodynamics is false.”

    Okay, I’m confused about this. My understanding is that all of those many folks who talk about the law of thermodynamics relating to how humans gain and lose weight (it’s all over every unmoderated comment thread related to fat that I’ve every made the mistake of reading, like a deer in headlights) really *are* mistaken… that the thermodynamics thing, when it’s applied as simple calories-in, calories-out, fails to take into account the many chemical reactions and even the incredibly complex other organisms in our guts that are involved in our weight. Saying that the law of thermodynamics applies to weight loss and gain may technically be true, but only if we understood better the role of those intestinal organisms, and all of the many chemicals that regulate these things.

    Rethinking Thin (by Kolata) also talks about how some folks, when fed more than they were hungry for, began to fidget and fidget, burning even hundreds more calories, without even being aware of it.

    I guess what I’m saying is, I’ve only ever seen the law of thermodynamics used in discussions about weight loss to support a bogus and ridiculously oversimplisitic “it’s easy: just burn more than you consume” argument.

  153. EVER made the mistake of reading… sorry. Typo queen: I swear I’d read over the whole thing a few times before submitting. Sorry.

  154. Re:lookatthisfatperson – wow, I am so confused by the disconnect between all the pictures of happy fat people doing awesome things and the hateful captions. It should be called readwhatameanshallowpersonhastosayaboutsomeonegoddamnawesome.

  155. @Rejoyce, me too. I just looked through most of it, beguiled by just that – the captions are paint-by-numbers hate, but some of the photos are just made me smile.

  156. I’m pretty sure that site (lookatthisfatperson) is illegal. It’s my understanding that no one is allowed to publish images for profit without the express written permission of the subject(s) in the image, unless the photographer has a signed model release, and these people are doing this for profit since they have advertisers. I doubt anyone in these photos has given their permission for this humiliation or has signed a release. In fact if a lawsuit occurred, it would be the publisher of these images (the site in this case) who would be libel, not the photographers. I just recently a read an article on a family who’s photo was accidentally used in a marketing campaign in Asia because it had been mistaken for a stock photo. The whole campaign had to be pulled because the photo had never been released for use.

  157. @LivingTheQuestions: You’re basically right, but the point is that it’s not that thermodynamics breaks down, it’s that people don’t recognize that how well calories are absorbed (calories in) and how they are used up (calories out) are a lot more complicated than most people who talk about “calories in, calories out” are willing to admit. “Calories out” is not as predictable as these people think. Among other things, the body will try to maintain homeostasis by altering the amount of calories expended, reducing calories out when there are fewer calories in, and vice versa, and it will also attempt to compensate for increases in activity through exercise by moving around less later.

    Even mainstream sources like the New York Times admit that much:
    (In case it isn’t obvious from the URL, there is also talk about “the obesity epidemic” and such, so Sanity Watchers warning there…)

    I’m not sure if I’m making it any clearer than the other people who’ve said it earlier–sorry if this just sounds repetitive…

  158. Okay this is actually from the User Agreement on the parent site that hosts lookatthisfatperson (sorry it’s kinda long):

    You agree not to use any obscene, indecent, or offensive language or to provide to or post on or through the Website any graphics, text, photographs, images, video, audio or other material that is defamatory, abusive, bullying, harassing, racist, hateful, or violent. You agree to refrain from ethnic slurs, religious intolerance, homophobia, and personal attacks when using the Website.


    You may not provide to or post on or through the Website any graphics, text, photographs, images, video, audio or other material that invades anyone’s privacy, or facilitates or encourages conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability, or that otherwise violates any local, state, federal, national or international law or regulation (e.g., drug use, underage drinking). You agree to use the Website only for lawful purposes and you acknowledge that your failure to do so may subject you to civil and criminal liability. Do not provide to or post on or through the Website any graphics, text, photographs, images, video, audio or other material that includes instructions for weapon and/or explosive manufacture or use.

    You are responsible for ensuring that any graphics, text, photographs, images, video, audio or other material you provide to or post on the Website, including without limitation in bulletin boards, forums, personal ads, chats or elsewhere, does not violate the copyright, trademark, trade secret or any other personal or proprietary rights of any third party or is provided or posted with the permission of the owner(s) of such rights.

  159. “You agree not… to post on or through the Website any graphics, text, photographs, images, video, audio or other material that is defamatory, abusive, bullying, harassing, racist, hateful, or violent.”

    Wow. It’s like they missed the word NOT in that sentence.

  160. Look At This Fat Person is run by the Look At This Fucking Hipster people? Damn, my faith in the integrity of the making-fun-of-how-people-look-in-candid/out-of-context-photos industry has been shaken to the very core.

  161. And it looks like said folks are basically trying to rip off Texts From Last Night, Awkward Family Photos, and a Cheezburger site or two, as well. Lovely overall internets ethics right there.

  162. Oh shit. Speaking of…the site they’re affiliated with is It’s not the real one, just another stupid ripoff like their other linked sites. The actual Look at This Fucking Hipster, with the book and all, is at . So it seems that our actual hipster browsing is safe!

  163. Meh, I’m sorry, that’s harsher than I meant it to be. I just don’t see a whole lot of difference between laughing at awkward and unflattering pictures of “hipsters” versus ones of fat people, or Wal-Mart shoppers, or goths, or whatever. I’m not trying to set up a continuum of oppression that says it’s anywhere near as hard being a “hipster” as it is being fat, but these sites are still peddling the same conformist, lookist schoolyard schlock either way.

    I can’t convince my brain to file the fatty ones and the hipster ones in different file folders, or either one in the same folder as lolcats. If the term “hipster” hadn’t been coined and then enlarged in meaning several times over, those sites would be called “Look At This Fucking Dork“.

    We’re cool with laughing at dorks now? I’m just checking.

  164. …and my attempt to clarify ended up even more harsh, and didn’t even say what I meant to in it. :P If it’s somebody’s guilty pleasure, eh, it’s far from the worst… I’m just—to borrow a term—gobsmacked by the idea that something like LATFH would need to be associated with a “Look At This Fat Person” to be tainted.

  165. Alexandra Erin, making fun of the way people look, or how they choose to look, has never been overwhelmingly amusing for me either. I know there are styles out there that some will find to be strange or unusual, but creating a website that does nothing but encourage people to laugh and point fingers rubs me the wrong way too.

  166. Raka, your avatar looks like it has its hand on its hip, ready to give someone what for. I’m kinda jealous.

  167. “Oh, thank God there are still some sites out there where we can go judge strangers for their appearances and feel good about ourselves.”

    Thank you, Alexandra Erin.

    I can’t bring myself to click on LATFH either. (Besides, it would cut into my Hipster Puppies time, and *that* site I am in love with!)

  168. @Livingthequestions, I’m mostly going to just say, “yeah, what closetpuritain said”. The problem with responding to someone being simplistic by ALSO being simplistic is that nobody learns anything (assuming anyone in the conversations is even interested in doing so). If they say “it’s just thermodynamics” and we answer “no, that doesn’t work!” we sound as dumb as they do. I’d rather waste my breath spouting details at someone who is utterly uninterested than flip off with a quick quip someone who might possibly have the capacity to get the point… at least on MOST days. Sometimes a big ol’ “jeezus you’re a fucking idjit” is all I can muster.

    I am now officially shutting up on this subject before poor RNigade goes into C-word overload.

    @AlexandraErin, thank you.

  169. I have to say, I have always read LATFH as a sort of tribute to style, not a “haha dorks” site. I’m not going to argue with anyone who sees it differently, but “We’re cool with laughing at dorks now?” really just doesn’t resonate with me on this one. Obviously YMMV, and it is probably worth having an open thread at some point about the single-serving Tumblr trend as a phenomenon.

  170. Also, as a general request: if you have a link that you’d like to share with the bloggers here or the rest of the Shapelings, please either email it to us or post it to Ning (if it’s really the commenters you want to talk to) unless there is a current open thread. Sometimes tangents on non-open threads are great, especially if they’re relevant to the original post, but most of the time it is really, really frustrating for us mods when someone comes into a conversation about a specific topic to drop an unrelated link. I know we all love to talk to each other, but this blog is really not a message board, and it makes moderating much more difficult when people treat it as if it is.

  171. @ gfgrad: Lol. Every time I make a comment of a serious nature on here and I’m thinking and thinking about it, I then look at my avatar and my brain switches to, “Tee hee!”

  172. I could swear I’ve read that page before and not seen the e-mail addresses. I’ve been guilty of dumping off-topic links in the past (albeit only in fluff threads). I’ll do differently in future.


  173. Fluff and Open Threads aren’t generally analogous. Usually, Fluff threads have a focus, it’s just a fluffy focus and shouldn’t be treated as a dumping ground for off-topic content either.

  174. Alexandra Erin, that wasn’t too harsh, IMO. I don’t think people who look at LATFH are Horrible People, but the concept is mean-spirited enough to make me uncomfortable.

    I guess part of what makes it seem more OK is that hipsters have a reputation of being pretentious; I’m not sure how well that applies to individual hipsters and I don’t think that that automatically makes it OK.

  175. Julia! Thank you for using lactose intolerance as an example. I had been asking that question years ago and never could get a straight answer. What you described was pretty much exactly what I had suspected, though. I once asked the doctor mother of a friend of mine whether or not I absorbed any calories from dairy, since I was lactose intolerant, and her response was to start buying lactaid. I was annoyed because that was not what I had asked. I tried to clarify my question, and she cut me off. “Wouldn’t you like to go to a party and eat ice cream and not have discomfort?” WTF? To make things worse, my friends who were with that night accused me of being rude. I was not. I’d asked a serious question, and I was being blown off. I thought she was being rude. So thank you for finally giving me an answer.

    And just an anecdote about dieting–by the time I was in middle school, my parents had put me on a number of different diets, including a grapefruit diet (one of the few foods I will not touch except to throw at someone…blech!) and slim fast (also blech!). Well, after extensive research, my mom decided that I did not have enough red in my aura. She’d also read that we should be getting at least glasses of water a day…she missed the whole “a glass is 8 oz” bit. She went out and bought a bunch of red, plastic 24 oz coke cups. Every day she would fill 8 of them, cover them with plastic wrap, and set them outside to let the sun infuse them with the red from the cups, and I would be made to drink the water from the previous day’s infusing. Warm, stale water…and 192 oz of it…yummm…

    Oh, and every evening I had to lay naked under a red light bulb while listening to John Phillips Sousa.

    I’m not even kidding.

    So, all in all, not overly dangerous to my physical health, but my mental health…jury’s still out on that one.

    Fortunately, however, my teeth have always been perfectly straight. I’ve always felt they were one of my best features.

    Guess what! I typed all that with one hand! I’ve got a puppy sleeping in the other arm. Go me and my perseverance and mad typing skills!

  176. @Bbell-horne. Holy mother of god – that is horrible! I was forced to go on the grapefruit diet, and that was bad enough, but the red plastic cups and the lamp? WTF? I hope this question doesn’t come across as flip because I don’t mean it that way, but did your mother have mental health issues? Because that’s just … I can’t even think of words to describe …

  177. Oh, and every evening I had to lay naked under a red light bulb while listening to John Phillips Sousa.

    This sounds like something from a Chuck Palaniuk novel.

    What was the Sousa supposed to accomplish?

  178. My mom’s always has been a little off. She’s very “new age”: psychics, herbs, crystals, scrying mirrors and all that stuff. I actually gravitate towards the metaphysical, as well, but I think the whole tendency manifests differently in me than in my mother.

    As far as the Sousa, the instructions were to listen to powerful music while soaking in the red, and she decided Sousa was the way to go.

    BTW, I love Palaniuk. I hadn’t thought of it before, but yeah, it does sound a little like him.

    Once I grew up, I found out that the grapefruit diet was basically a cardiac diet. Why would you put a kid on a cardiac diet? I realize it must not have been easy for them, though, because I loved food. I still do. Food is a joy. But I remember being in Shoney’s one night as a kid and my mother ordering me 2 shrimp baskets. 2. At the time, I was like “score!” But that along with all the crazy diets didn’t make any sense. Diet schizophrenia, I guess.

    Growing up can be so weird.

Comments are closed.